Was he “asking for it?” Sure, but so were the cartoonists and editors who worked at Charlie Hebdo. So was the illustrator Lars Vilks when he became the target of a failed assassination plot in Copenhagen earlier this month. So was Theo van Gogh when he decided to reveal the truth about how women are treated in the Islamic world and was stabbed through the chest for it.
The prominent Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy was a provocateur. He was an outspoken atheist as well as a prolific blogger and author. Friends described him as a “secular humanist” and a critic of Islamic excesses. He spent his life championing secularism, and he became a target of Islamist militants as a result of his work.
“Hardline Islamist groups have long demanded the public execution of atheist bloggers and sought new laws to combat writing critical of Islam,” The Guardian reported. These groups got the chance to make good on their threats this week.
“[Roy and his wife] were on a bicycle rickshaw, returning from a book fair, when two assailants stopped and dragged them onto a sidewalk before striking them with machetes, local media reported citing witnesses,” the report read.
“He died as he was brought to the hospital. His wife was also seriously wounded. She has lost a finger,” local police chief Sirajul Islam said.
“Roy suffered fatal wounds in the head and died from bleeding… after being brought to the hospital,” doctor Sohel Ahmed told reporters.
Police have launched a probe and recovered the machetes used in the attack but could not confirm whether Islamists were behind the incident.
Yeah, it’s probably not going too far out on a limb to suspect that Islamist militants are behind this murder. The New York Times describes the threats that Roy faced on a regular basis:
“In a recent article, Mr. Roy described the release of his 2014 book, “Bishawer Virus,” Bengali for “The Virus of Faith,”
“The death threats started flowing to my email inbox on a regular basis” after the book came out, he wrote. One extremist, he wrote, “issued death threats to me through his numerous Facebook statuses.” In one of those threats, he said the extremist wrote: “Avijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. But he will be murdered when he comes back.”
Nope, this one doesn’t seem like much of a thrilling whodunit.
Those who risk offending the sensibilities of the world’s Muslims by calling for a reformation within the faith should continue to take this risk. It is an intellectual virus that motivates radical Islamists to kill dissenters, to destroy ancient art, and to impose and enforce unending solemnity on their neighbors. It is nothing short of Medieval, and it must be identified plainly and condemned forcefully. This crisis in the Islamic world is not getting better, it’s getting worse.